Acupuncture is part of a medical system that dates back nearly 3,500 years. This medical system is known as Traditional Chinese Medicine or TCM. TCM acknowledges not four but five seasons. The fifth season, Indian Summer, occurs in late August through mid-September. Each season in TCM has a pair of organs or energetic pathways it corresponds to. For Indian Summer, these pathways are those of the spleen and stomach.
The spleen and stomach are directly responsible for digestion. The spleen also has the added function of transporting and absorbing water in the body. When the spleen is not functioning properly, the body may suffer from a buildup of dampness. This can manifest as edema, digestive issues and even brain fog. Many people who have impaired spleen function also suffer from diabetes.
To keep the spleen and stomach functioning properly within the TCM system, things like acupuncture, herbal formulas, nutritional counseling and practices like qi gong or tai chi may need to be incorporated. There are over 350 acupuncture points on the body, but there are some that work exceptionally well during Indian Summer to help with digestion and fluid transport.
1. Spleen 9 – This point is located bilaterally on the inside of the lower leg. It can be found by locating the tibia, following it up the leg to the knee and then feeling for the depression behind and below the lower edge of the tibia. This acupuncture point is a wonderful point to use to help drain edema and decrease abdominal pain, bloating and diarrhea.
2. Stomach 25 – This point is located bilaterally on the lower abdomen. It can be found about 2 finger-breadths laterally away from the middle of the belly button and completely level with it. This point is part of a group known as the four doors. Stomach 25 is used to treat abdominal pain, bloating, constipation, diarrhea and edema.
3. Ren 6 – This point is located on the midline of the abdomen, about one and a half thumb-breadths directly below the belly button. This is another point that is part of the four doors grouping. Ren 6 can be used to help with abdominal pain, edema, diarrhea, constipation and menstrual problems.
4. Ren 12 – This point is located on the midline of the abdomen, about four thumb-breadths directly above the belly button. This is the final point that completes the four doors grouping. Just like its counterparts, Ren 12 can help with bloating, abdominal pain and diarrhea. It is also used to treat stomachaches, acid reflux, vomiting and diarrhea.
5. Spleen 6 – This point is located bilaterally on the inside of the lower leg. It is found three thumb-breadths above the medial ankle bone and just behind the tibia. Spleen 6 is frequently used by acupuncturists. It helps with abdominal pain and bloating, diarrhea, menstrual problems, urinary leakage, edema, dizziness, vertigo and insomnia.
Any of these points can be used alone or in conjunction with others. They can be manually stimulated using pressure from a finger or dull, rounded tool. But for best effects, it is recommended acupuncture be applied.
Do you consider yourself a healthy eater? Do you follow the guidelines set forth by the government for healthy eating? Or have you gone rogue? There are as many different definitions of healthy as there are colors in the rainbow. But according to traditional Chinese medicine, there are certain guidelines that will keep the body happy and healthy throughout life. Let’s explore this a little deeper.
The Traditional Chinese Medicine diet is based on energetic principles that encourage balance, clean burning digestion and a well-functioning body that remains free of disease and full of energy. Eating for balance is a way of life in Traditional Chinese Medicine theory. There are certain foods that help the digestive system function properly and allow the body to utilize the nutrients it needs to perform. When food enters the mouth, it travels through the stomach and intestines. This is where the energy is extracted from the food and the waste products are excreted. The energy that was extracted become your life force or Qi (pronounced “chee”). Digestion, in TCM theory, should be an unnoticeable event. The digestive system should be clean and quiet, allowing the body to extract the most nutrition and energy from the food that is ingested. If the digestive system becomes clogged, the energy does not get adequately absorbed and there is leftover residue that sticks to places within the body thus causing blockages and affecting the body’s daily functions.
Dampness is the most common byproduct of eating foods that create blockages in the digestive system. Foods that create dampness include cheese, yogurt, white flour and sugar. Dampness causes blockages or stagnations that can then lead to pain and disease. Symptoms of accumulated dampness include mucus, loose stools or constipation, excess weight gain and swollen joints. Chronic allergies and arthritis are two Western medicine diseases that are very closely linked to dampness.
To avoid disease, the TCM diet recommends things like steamed rice, cooked vegetables and small quantities of animal protein. Vegetables play a major role in draining dampness and are packed with nutrition. The more colorful the vegetables, the healthier they are for the body, as they contain lots of antioxidants that promote health and longevity. Your plate should begin with large quantities of brightly colored and lightly cooked vegetables. Leafy greens are very important also as they are some of the most balancing and nutrient dense foods available.
Rice is a balanced food that is easily digested. Rice is also hypo-allergenic and this is advantageous to those who are dealing with allergies as it is very gentle on the digestive system. White rice tends to be more cleansing, while brown rice is considered more nourishing. Rice is a clean burning food that gently drains dampness from the body.
Protein is the final component of a healthy TCM diet. Animal proteins and beans are difficult to digest and therefore are only suggested in small quantities. Beans are better overall than animal proteins as they do help absorb dampness and they provide fiber.
There are several things that should be avoided in the TCM diet. Dairy is one of the biggest culprits of creating dampness. It is also cold in nature and this is a hindrance to the digestion. Cold, raw foods are culprits in the formation of dampness, as it is difficult for the body to process them. This is why foods ingested should be at least at body temperature. When the body has to heat the food, it drains the energetic resources of the body, which weakens the body over time. So things like salads, chilled food, iced drinks and frozen foods should not be included in the daily diet.
When it comes to healthy eating, it is obvious that most of the United States doesn’t adhere to the aforementioned guidelines. If you are truly trying to eat healthy and you are dealing with illness, why not consider trying the TCM way of eating? You might be surprised at how your body changes.
Its sad but true - Jonathan has respectfully given notice and is moving on to continue his Acupuncture practice elsewhere after Saturday August 18th. We will miss him greatly at All Ways Well. He has been an incredible practitioner to share space and patients with and we wish him well in all his endeavors.
Please rest assured that we'll continue to provide excellent continued care for all your needs. Jonathan has been meticulous in updating charts and notes to reflect his treatments, herbal prescriptions and diagnoses.
If you have any questions or concerns please don't hesitate to reach out directly to Rebecca anytime at email@example.com.
A study conducted by the Department of Medicine at the University of California has shown the use of acupuncture can help stimulate the immune system by activating natural cancer killer cells. The study compiled evidence from multiple prior studies that investigated the impact of acupuncture on natural killer cells. The hypothesis is acupuncture enhances the cytokines within the natural killer cells. This, along with the anti-cancer cytotoxic activity, is increased by the use of acupuncture, which decreases the proliferation of cancer cells in the body. Multiple experiments were performed on animals to come to the following conclusion: The study demonstrates acupuncture treatments can enhance the ability of the immune system to eliminate malignant cancer cells by pumping up the natural killer cells in the body.
Melanoma is defined as a tumor of melanin-forming cells or skin cancer. Melanoma tends to be malignant once it is discovered, and as with any form of cancer, the treatment can be almost as bad, if not worse, than the disease itself. Melanoma is the most dangerous type of skin cancer. It occurs when unrepaired DNA damage to the skin cells, usually caused by ultraviolet light, causes mutations that then develop into rapidly multiplying tumors. These tumors originate in the melanocytes, which produce the pigment of the skin and many times, melanomas can resemble moles. This is why so many people aren’t overly concerned with them until it’s too late.
The statistics regarding melanoma are quite frightening. It is estimated 87,000 new cases of invasive melanoma will be diagnosed in just the United States this year. Nearly 10,000 people die from melanoma annually in the U.S. Most melanomas are caused by ultraviolet radiation from the sun or tanning beds. Melanomas can be any color, but most frequently they are black or brown. Those people who have a genetic predisposal to skin cancer need to be extra careful when spending time in the sun.
Every person on the planet has cancer cells in their body. Those cancer cells only proliferate or duplicate when there is the perfect storm of conditions in the body, such as decreased immunity, prolonged stress and anxiety and improper dietary habits. When the body is balanced, the immune system attacks and destroys renegade cancer cells before they can become malignant. But an unbalanced immune system, will often fail to defend the body from the cancer cells.
Traditional Chinese Medicine, and specifically, acupuncture, has shown great promise in helping melanoma patients deal with the many symptoms they encounter. One of the most important ways regular acupuncture treatments can help melanoma patients, is by boosting the immune system. The acupuncture needles are homeopathic in nature, but when they puncture the skin, the needles are perceived as an enemy by the body. This causes the body to send an immune-mediated response to the area, which, in effect, retrains the body’s immune system to attack the intruders. The needles can be placed near or around the area of the tumor, which allows the defensive action of the immune system to be channeled to the cancer site itself.
Acupuncture can also be very effective at treating the other common symptoms of melanoma. Symptoms like fatigue, depression and anxiety, can be managed with multiple acupuncture treatments that balance hormones in the body. When these are decreased, the immune system and the overall body will become stronger.
As with any form of cancer, having the proper diagnosis and treatments are essential. But adding complementary therapies, such as acupuncture, can increase the probability of success at defeating the disease.
A study published by The National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health looked at the effects of acupuncture on the regulation of lipid and glucose metabolism in patients suffering from metabolic syndrome. The study followed 76 metabolic syndrome patients over a period of time and divided them into two groups. The first group received only conventional medical treatments/pharmaceuticals, while the second group received conventional medical treatments plus regular acupuncture treatments. The body mass index (BMI), blood lipid, blood glucose and comprehensive therapeutic effects were compared before and after treatment in both groups. The results revealed the group that received acupuncture plus conventional medical treatments had superior improvement over the group that only received conventional medical treatments. The subjects showed improvement in BMI, triglyceride, total cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, fasting blood glucose, high density lipoprotein cholesterol, fasting insulin and insulin resistance index. This study provides strong evidence that acupuncture can greatly improve the health of patients suffering from metabolic disorders, when coupled with conventional medical treatments.
Metabolism is defined as the chemical processes that occur within a living organism in order to maintain life. That’s not something that most people consciously think about. It just happens and we automatically assume it will happen, regardless of what we do on a daily basis. But this isn’t always the case. Some people are born with genetic defects that can mess with their metabolism. Others develop metabolic disorders over time from not taking proper care of themselves. Metabolic disorders can also be trauma induced.
As with most health issues, conventional medicine typically treats metabolic issues with pharmaceuticals. For some this works very well. But there are always side effects with pharmaceuticals and the body can also develop a resistance to them over time. So when it comes to metabolic disorders, a natural approach is usually a better long term choice. This is where acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine can be very beneficial.
According to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), all disease occurs in the body due to either a lack, excess or blockage of energy. TCM treats these energy imbalances using a host of modalities, but acupuncture is the most commonly known and used. Most metabolic diseases are a result of an imbalance of hormones such as insulin, glucose and thyroid hormones. These three components are key to keeping the body functioning properly and can easily be thrown off. Too much stress, poor dietary habits and lack of exercise are all reasons why the body’s metabolism may not be functioning correctly.
Acupuncture has been shown to balance hormones when accompanied by lifestyle modifications. Acupuncture helps control food cravings, boosts metabolism, improves digestion and helps the liver function optimally. The liver produces chemicals that help break down fat, while filtering out toxins that can slow our body’s ability to digest and regulate. Excess stress can lead to a slower metabolism, an increase in body fat and poor sleep. Regular acupuncture treatments can help reduce stress
If you’re feeling tired or sluggish, put on some weight, or are dealing with stress and depression, acupuncture can definitely help.
Acupuncture for Wellness
Should I get acupuncture if I’m not sick? This is a question people often ask. For more than 2,500 years practitioners of acupuncture & Oriental medicine (OM) have emphasized the importance of preventative medicine rather than waiting until disease begins. Yang-sheng is the preventative branch of OM, yang-sheng means to ‘nourish life’. The tradition of drinking bone broth to nourish wellbeing comes from the yang-sheng branch of OM.
Another key concept from the yang-sheng tradition of acupuncture & OM is emotional balance is the key to wellness and longevity. According to OM there are external and internal factors that bring health out of balance. The external factors include environmental factors (weather, pollution, viruses, etc) while the internal factors are our emotions. The key to maintaining health is keeping our emotions in balance and not get stuck in any emotion.
Western allopathic medicine usually doesn’t recognize the role of emotions in creating illness beyond acknowledging stress exacerbates or causes 80 percent of all illnesses. According to OM theory, specific emotions are linked to specific parts of the body: being stuck in an emotion can bring that part of the body out of balance. Acupuncture & OM can help us stay healthy by balancing our emotions.
OM theory identifies specific emotions that bring us out of harmony in specific ways. How did this theory develop? OM practitioners have kept meticulous records for 2,500 years; there is a long tradition of scholarly observation and analysis of case studies. Through this long history patterns of health and disease were identified; these patterns held consistently true and thus became an integral part of OM theory.
In one of the oldest books on OM, “The Inner Classics of the Yellow Emperor,”compiled around 100 B.C.E., said excess joy slows and scatters qi, excess anger causes qi to ascend, excess sadness and grief weakens qi, excess worry knots and binds qi, fear descends qi and fright induces chaotic qi. The good news is each excessive emotion can be ‘harnessed,’ transformed and channeled into a virtuous emotion, which restores harmony and wellbeing. This transformation of emotions from excess to virtue is a vital aspect of yang-sheng branch of acupuncture and OM.
Among the most common of excess emotion is the tendency of overthinking, worry and rumination; this will tend to result in digestive issues and/or fluid metabolism concerns, as well as muscular tension and pain. To transform overthinking and worry into the virtue of creativity and dynamic insight, develop a regular meditation practice, even five to 10 minutes once a day can make a difference! You will develop the discipline to redirect worry and overthinking into dwelling in the present moment more often. A quote from “The Dhammapada” (The Buddha’s Path of Wisdom) expresses this, “As the bee collects nectar and departs without injuring the flower, or its color or scent, so let a sage dwell in his village.” Notice when you worry or overthink about something, think of your thoughts like a bee. Allow yourself to collect the ‘pollen’ of your thought while also germinating future ideas and transform your thoughts into honey. A bee does not cling to only one flower.
Look for future articles for tips on transforming other excessive emotions and nourish your vitality and wellbeing with the wisdom of OM.
Herbal Formulas for Summer
Summer. The word alone stirs up thoughts of campfires, flip flops, popsicles, swimming and long sunny days. However, for many people it also means sunburns, mosquito bites and excessive sweating. Fortunately, there are lots of ways to deal with all of these issues. Sipping on some refreshing lemonade or munching on a slice of watermelon are some traditional ways to cool off. But Traditional Chinese Medicine has some other less common ways of treating summer ailments.
TCM utilizes a methodology based on the five elements. Summer is ruled by the fire element. The summer months are a time of growth, joy and spiritual awareness. Something commonly seen by TCM practitioners during the summer season is a phenomenon called summer heat. The symptoms of summer heat include excessive body heat, sweating, constipation, dry mouth and heart palpitations. Despite the fact summer is a season of warmth, the body still needs to be prepped for the seasonal changes. Any transition from one season to another should include the boosting of the body’s immune system. Therefore, herbal formulas that strengthen the essence and nourish the body are very important to have on hand as summer rushes in.
Herbal formulas are an integral part of TCM. In fact, most scholars believe herbal formulas preceded the development of acupuncture, another vital modality utilized by TCM. One herbal formula that is a must must-have for somebody showing signs of summer heat, is known as Qing Shu Yi Qi Tang. This formula will clear away summer heat, promote bodily fluids and benefit the Qi (pronounced “chee”). Qi is the energy or life force that keeps all living things alive. When Qi becomes deficient or depleted, the body shows signs of disease.
Another herbal formula that can be beneficial during the summer months is known as Liu Yi San. This formula clears summer heat, resolves dampness and tonifies Qii. This particular formula can be used in severe cases of summer heat or heat stroke, as it can help stop any nausea or vomiting associated with heat exhaustion.
Not all herbal formulas are comprised of multiple herbs. There are some individual herbs that can be very helpful to have around in case somebody becomes stricken with summer heat. For instance, chrysanthemum flowers (Ju Hua) are frequently steeped into a refreshing tea during the warm summer months. Ju Hua clears heat from the lungs and is cooling to the body.
Mung beans can also be used to fight off summer heat and heat exhaustion. Mung beans can be steeped into a tea and sipped during an attack of summer heat. This tea can prevent and decrease the symptoms of dehydration, headaches, abdominal bloating and decreased urination.
There are also many other herbs that can be added to food or steeped into teas or used topically that can help with summertime ailments. Lavender is good for stress relief, as well as skin problems. Got a bug bite? Try applying some diluted tea tree oil. Elder flowers can assist with upper respiratory congestion that is sometimes common. Dandelions can be steeped into a tea that will help reduce a fever.
There are many ways herbs and herbal formulas can help during the warm summer months. Many of the single herbs can be found already made in teabags at the local grocery store. For the herbal formulations, you should check with a licensed TCM practitioner or herbalist in your area. So raise a glass of lemonade or iced tea to the season of summer. And don’t forget to add the Ju Hua.
Rebecca M H Kitzerow is a Licensed Acupuncturist practicing in La Center, Washington. With over a decade of experience she has won 10 Nattie consumer choice awards from Natural Awakenings Magazine since 2014.